Digging Beneath the Surface: Analyzing the Complexity of Instructors' Participation in Asynchronous Discussion

Lane Whitney Clarke, Audrey Bartholomew


This study is situated at the nexus of contradictory research about the role of the instructor in asynchronous discussions. The goal of this descriptive study was to provide a deeper analysis of instructor comments and participation in these discussions. By developing an analytical tool based on the Community of Inquiry framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001) we categorized the types of comments made by instructors as well as identified more complex profiles of instructor interaction. In addition, we looked at student and instructor data around instructor participation in these discussions. We found that instructors relied more heavily on social codes and were less likely to employ cognitive codes, that there was a variance in the types of discursive interactions as indicated by different discursive profiles, and that it is difficult for instructors to find the right balance of participation in asynchronous discussions. We believe engaging in this type of analysis can help us become more effective online instructors and provide a good next step for some larger relationship studies to further understand how the instructors’ comments do impact student discussion.


Asynchronous discussions, Online learning, Community of Inquiry

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v18i3.414